By Fidelis Munyoro
Former Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri wants to nullify a High Court order forcing him to explain his wealth, links and interest in a swathe of companies, and that he and his family acquired large property holdings and other assets.
He approached the High Court last week after all his known Zimbabwean assets were placed under management, while he must explain his link to the companies and properties which the State listed for potential forfeiture
Chihuri is being accused of side-tracking US$32 million of public funds into family companies and buying properties.
The order, which the National Prosecuting Authority obtained at the High Court last month, also encumbered Chihuri and the family’s various properties which were simultaneously placed under the management of the Asset Management Unit.
Chihuri, who is being represented by Kantor and Immerman law firm, argues that when the order was granted neither he nor others listed were given any prior notice of the proceedings, or given an opportunity to respond to the allegations that allegedly support the unexplained wealth order.
The order made is an ex parte order, that is one made without the other party aware.
It provides instant relief, albeit on a temporary basis and usually issued when immediate relief is needed and when scheduling a regular hearing and providing notice to the other party is not feasible.
Chihuri argues that the unexplained wealth order constituted a “gross irregularity and a fundamental breach of their legal rights” and wants the High Court to declare certain provisions of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act, 2019, infringe the constitution.
“It is my respectful submission that once it is found, as it should be, that the provisions of the Act in terms of which unexplained wealth order was sought and granted are constitutionally invalid, then good cause undoubtedly exist for the setting aside of the unexplained wealth order as it is an incurably bad law,” said Chihuri.
In challenging the constitutionality of the impugned provisions of the Act at the High Court, Chihuri and his family rely on a constitutional provision that gives courts subordinate to the Constitutional Court the power to make constitutional declarations and to pronounce as invalid, offensive pieces of legislation, although any such finding is subject to confirmation by the Constitutional Court.
Chihuri argues that if for any reason, the High Court does not wish to consider the constitutional matter, then the constitutional questions he is raising should be referred to the Constitutional Court for determination.
The State seeks to freeze Chihuri’s companies and the properties, which his family acquired during his 25 years at the helm of the police force, pending the final outcome of possible criminal investigations and civil suits.
Justice Felistas Chatukuta last month granted an application by Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi for an order forcing Chihuri and his wife, Isobel Halima Khan, to explain how they acquired their properties and to interdict them from having any dealings with the companies.
Chihuri and his co-respondents listed on the application did not contest the application.
Chihuri’s daughter Samantha Hamadziripi Chihuri, and son Ethan Takudzwa Augustine Chihuri were listed as respondents in the application along with relatives Aitken and Netsai Khan and the six companies — Croxile Investments, Adamah Enterprises, Mastermedia (Pvt) Ltd, Mastaw Investments and Rash Marketing.
The companies won orders for the supply of goods and services without going to tender.
According to the uncontested order, Chihuri is required to explain his relationship with Nodpack Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Croxile Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Mastaw Investments (Pvt) Ltd, Rewstand Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd, Rash Marketing (Pvt) Ltd and Adamah Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd. The Herald